Six horses are now out of work at Laine Brook Farm in west Yukon.
Before the pandemic hit, Jack, Diana, Sox, Batman, Molly and Connie would give about 35 lessons a week to local riders.
When the COVID-19 pandemic started to result in shelter at home guidelines in March, people stopped taking riding lessons. Horseback riding lessons are considered recreational, not essential, said Karen Singer, 28, who owns Laine Brook Farm.
She opened the business in 2017, and she has been a riding instructor locally since 2016. Singer had just had a baby, Evelyn, before the pandemic, and she had to cut back on her hours working with the horses before the health crisis.
Now with no riding lessons going on, she has to have help exercising, grooming and feeding the horses.
Jack, Diana and Connie are Morgan horses; Molly a quarter horse, Sox an Appaloosa and Batman is a paint horse.
“Their upkeep doesn’t stop,” Singer said. “These horses are normally working, but now that they are not, and we have to pay assistants to take care of them,” Singer said.
She had previously provided a scholarship program for youths to learn to ride, and that program has had to be suspended. There are also five other horses at Laine Brook, including one that is Singer’s own horse, and other horses boarded by local owners.
Owners have been able to visit horses at the stables under new, precautionary restrictions, and with a limit to how many people can be at the stables at one time, Singer said.
Laine Brook Farm is looking for sponsors to help the horses get through the downturn in business.
Meanwhile, she is trying to keep up with her students.
“We’ve been keeping in touch with students by doing Facebook Live videos of the horses in the pasture, being ridden or driven around the property. We’re also posting horse themed workbook challenges and have our yearly scholarship they can work on,” Singer said. “ We plan on putting together a video for at home exercises so they can stay fit for riding. I know the students are anxious to get back out and see their horses and horse friends.”
Singer said anyone wanting to help can visit their website at https://lainebrookfarm.com/sponsor-the-ponies.